Does my therapist really need to know that?

Humans are social creatures. I am not talking about introverts vs extroverts; instead, I’m talking about our need for support from each other. We have a need to connect to others- to understand where we belong. Because we are multifaceted, our treatment needs to be a holistic approach.

In order to fully understand the developmental and current influences in one’s life, the BioPsychoSocial (Biological, Psychological, and Social) approach to treatment is extremely important. It allows the mental health professional to create a strengths-based treatment plan while finding solutions to circumstances holding you back. Gathering this information involves asking questions that may not make sense to clients at first.  Many times it may seem confusing as to why I am asking about situations from a long ago, but all this allows the clinician to understand the overall lifestyle of the client.

*Biological information includes information about traits that one may have inherited. Our experiences can be impacted based on gender, disability, genetics, etc. Though as we get older, we appreciate diversity, at a younger age, being different can cause one to feel alienated.

  • Think of this as more of a fish trying to climb a tree. Biologically, fish do not have what it takes to be able to survive on land, let alone climb up the stairs. Understanding the genetic makeup helps one understand any advantages or disadvantages he/she may have when faced with a task.

*Psychological information includes the ability to learn and memorize, beliefs, behaviors, coping skills, etc. It is the way one processes information internally. Various “tests” or studies show certain personality traits of various groups and to a certain extent, the patterns appear to match. This information can allow us to “predict” possible behavior patterns when faced with certain challenges.

  • The Myer Briggs test is a fairly well-known personality test that shares details of each “type” of personality and details regarding possible career choices, positives, and negative behavior traits, etc.  Another example is the personality “tests” one may take as part of the employment application process.  It allows the agency to understand if the personality of the individual will match the culture of the agency. 

*Social information includes details of an individual’s support system, family backgrounds, beliefs based on external factors (socioeconomic status, education, etc). Following a certain tradition or belief about self from a tradition is part of the social makeup of an individual.

  • Success as a parent can be a standard example of this category.  In the Western world, children are encouraged to leave home soon after 18, while it is common to have children live with their parents until marriage in other parts of the world. The role of a man or woman is a societal belief that is enforced differently depending on culture.  

Let’s put this in context with someone struggling with low self-esteem.

Let’s say that this individual is struggling with a medical condition (Biological) that physically sets them apart from the crowd. The looks from others alone can reinforce the negative beliefs (psychological) he/she has about him/herself leading to isolating him/herself (social).

I know it can be confusing at times when your therapist asks you questions about events from your past or details that you may not feel pertain to your reason for seeking therapy at this time. But all this information helps the clinician understand you more in-depth and perhaps identify more specific ways to help you reach your full potential.

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